If you could have only seen the dirt and dust under the carpet! It is so easy to keep the stairs clean now!
The following is an idea of the work, time, cost and lessons learned from the process!
1. Expect it to take a few days- especially if you have kids and / or dogs.
Ripping up the carpet, the tack strips and padding took about 30 minutes. Another hour was taken by finding and pulling up the staples and nails left.
The most painstaking task was scraping and sanding the treads to prep for the stain. The treads were covered with paint overspray, spackling and debris from the builder finishing the walls before they installed the carpet. Sanding took a few days of working on it for an hour or two at a time. The worse part was trying to sand the paint that was at the edges of each tread. A hand sander and a mouse sander helped but we still had some paint left that we couldn't remove without us going crazy!
Once the stairs are cleaned of the paint/ debris, you need to sweep, wipe with damp rag, sweep and wipe again. You need them to be as clean as possible! Then you tape. You will be taping a lot. We went through one roll of Frog Tape. (By the way, it is an okay tape but I didn't think it was much better than the blue tape. Frog tape also sticks to itself and makes it harder to work with.) I painted the risers first. The taping and two coats of paint took about two naptimes (4 hours). Let it cure a day or two then tape the risers so you can stain the treads. I didn't tape the edges of the stairs (left and right sides) because I knew I would be painting those later.
We stained the treads going bottom to top which took about 2 hours so we could go to bed while it dried. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED FROM THE FIRST FLOOR BEFORE BEGINNING! That includes a hammer to close the stain jar, rags for cleaning messes, etc.
A new staircase was waiting for us in the morning! It was awesome seeing the stained stairs.
It took about another one to two hours to touch up our mistakes on the paint and to paint the left and right sides.
We did not put another coat of stain or poly on the treads since we liked the color and the stain had the poly mixed in. We will probably do a poly coat later on to get a glossier look. Right now they are matte.
2. Be prepared for a mess!
The sanding created dust. Dust travels. Close all the doors that you can. Cover / remove what you can. Try to seal off the area if possible. Where a mask, old clothes and glasses.
I am still finding dust in weird places. Even in rooms upstairs that had the doors closed!
3. If you have dogs, they may not like the new stairs!
It took some time for our Great Dane to go up and down the stairs. They are NOT slick. They are a different feel and sound. Our dachshund will not go up the stairs and will only go down if there is food to be eaten!
4. They will be nosier.
Our daughter likes the echo that has developed without the carpet to absorb the noise. The dog's nails will click on them and footsteps will be heard.
5. If you are obsessive compulsive, you may not want to do this!
The stairs are not perfect. They probably would only be perfect if we replaced all the stairs! We have some paint and stain bleed. We still have paint on the treads but the darker stain covered them well.
Be reasonable about how "new" you can make these old stairs look.
6. It will cost little but make a big impact!
We had to buy the following: Frog Tape, one container of stain, sand paper for Mouse and palm sander, hand sander to hold sandpaper to do the edges. It was about $35 for everything. We had white paint and most of the tools. I also bought one piece of molding to continue the toe molding and the bottom of the stairs and to hide the edge of the carpet at the top.
We had to borrow the following: a palm sander (1/4 sheet sander)